Surge in Off-Roading Stirs Dust and Debate in West

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I read this one a week or so back in the New York Times. Here’s a short teaser quote:

Outdoor enthusiasts are flocking in record numbers to lesser-known forests, deserts and mountains, where the rules of use have been lax and enforcement infrequent.

The federal government has been struggling to come up with plans to accommodate the growing numbers of off-highway vehicles — mostly with proposed maps directing them toward designated trails — but all-terrain-vehicle users have started formidable lobbying campaigns when favorite trails have been left off the maps.

Read more:

My one question is this: Why in the hell are mountain bikes grouped in with motorcycles?

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

14 Replies to “Surge in Off-Roading Stirs Dust and Debate in West”

  1. “My one question is this: Why in the hell are mountain bikes grouped in with motorcycles?”

    Big Jonny, et al–

    This is a complex issue. I’ve been arguing with members of the BBTC, Seattle’s MTB club, about this. MTB activists tend to seek access above all else, and dangerously ally themselves with sled-heads and motocrossers seeking the same.

    Me, I see a critical distinction between MTB on one hand and sleds and motorbikes on the other. Bicycles are quiet and clean and (if you don’t slide your tires) do little trail damage, even in wet climates like the Pacific Northwest. Sleds and motorbikes are loud and smoky and trash trails (when they even stay on them).

    The problems with both constituencies are the raging assholes. My opinion is that a higher percentage of sled-heads and motocrossers are irresponsible, 20-something males who don’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves. Dimple-bobs, if you will (DMPLBOB, Does My Penis Look Bigger On This Bike). Unfortunately, there are some of these types in the MTB community, especially downhill and freeride guys. It only takes a handful of raging assholes on DH bikes to piss off a whole lot of hikers.

    So, no big surprise, we have a few raging assholes fucking it up for everyone.

    Me, I support Wilderness issues. (Too bad that “wilderness” today means horses but not bicycles– the result of eighty year-old Federal verbiage forbidding “mechanized vehicles.”) Check out


  2. screw you if I ever see Mikey on the trail I’ll run you over with my 8″ travel dh sled….Braaaap!!!

  3. I wonder if riding a rigid/rigid MTB does significantly less damage than downhill banzai-ing on double-boingers.

  4. Uh, yeah, ATV’s are a real fucking problem. Everyone and their brother has one, and it seems like they all come up here to the White Mountains to ride them. The CMLUA, a grassroots lobbying group based in Eagar, AZ, is doing it’s damndest to keep every mile of road on the Apache-Sitgreaves open to motorized use. I understand that ATV owners are legitimate public lands users, but so are hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. It’s kinda hard to have a good time riding your bike, hiking, or riding your horse, when some asshole on a quad comes ripping past you at forty mph. A big reason ATV use is so rampant, is because they are easy to ride. Unlike a motorcycle, anyone can jump on a quad, and go tear hell out of a wet meadow, or a non-motorized trail. I’m not trying to tell quad owners that they can’t ride up here. But they need to realize that their “recreation” really fucks up other people’s recreation. I don’t want to hear/see/smell their shitty fuckin’ machines. The trails up here suck, so most of the good riding is on old two-track roads. They don’t need every single one of them. I’m so sick and tired of this arguement I could puke. What about the wildlife? Do these people think that having an open road every 1/4 mile makes for good wildlife habitat? Oh yeah, I forgot, lazy ass road hunters need all the open roads they can get. If you give a damn, check out the Apache-Sitgreaves NF’s website, and comment on the proposed travel management legislation.

  5. Just another reason for a punitive tax on gasoline. How many of these mouth-breathers are gonna be out there yeehawin’ along if gas goes to 7 bucks a gallon. How bout that… $3 for Chevron, $3 for carbon neutral alternative fuel development and $1 for wilderness preservation and restoration. You wanna be in my wilderness get your carcass out there under your own power.

  6. The Coconino is the largest forest in the entire country….

    It has 17 miles of designated motorcycle trail.

    Fuck the Farce Service and their solutions. They tell us everything is closed. So people ride whereever they want. If they built a system. Or better yet, let us build the system we need, and have the volunteers to do it, there wouldn’t be near the problem it is about to be. I wont comment on the quads.

    All of you who diss us motorized users have obviously never ever ridden one. Get fucked if you think going 25 mph on trail doesn’t take effort and fitness and skill.

    Ever been on upper/lower moto. New upper moto. Upper Brookbank. Shultz Creek. Sunset. Orion Spring/Secret. All of the Challenger (obviously) The Fort Valley System. Etc. Here in Flag, motorcycles built the trail system. Starting in the early 70’s, and with Flag biking we are still building the system. Come out to a trail day and youll see those fat fucks people talk about swinging picks. I dont see very many of the downhill guys on trail day. For that matter, I don’t see even a small percentage of the mountain bikers I know on trail day, but we moto guys will turn out 30 guys.


    If you don’t dig running into the guys who built the trails, ride Elden. Weve already been closed out. In another year, theyll close the Challenger to us, and the war will start.

    This sounds a little angry, but (no shit) Ive been drinking.

  7. Thanks, Ike, for speaking up. Jonny asks why mountain bikes and dirt bikes are categorized the same, I ask why they shouldn’t be. At least here in the Coconino, we have a good majority of responsible multi-use trail users. Like Ike said, motorcyclists in Coconino county built the trails and are the largest organized group of trail workers around. Anyone who doubts motorcyclists can be responsible, I urge you to speak to a member of the Coconino Trail Riders and see how alike we really are. We’re not ATVers, we stay on the trail, we yield to cyclists, equestrians, runners, and hikers, we fix what we break, we work on multi-use and non-motorized trails alike, we work hard to keep our bikes as quiet as we can, we pack out what we pack in, we give respect and only ask for respect in return.

  8. Misters Ike and Speaker are correct. I went “canyoneering” in the San Rafael Swell (mostly on foot), had an awesome week, the only motorized traffic we saw were motorcycles… they were polite and they were skilled and hardcore.


  9. Ike,
    You should comment on the quads. They are the ones that are going to blow it for everyone. The motorized (and non-motorized) crowd needs good common sense input from both sides, not just ranting and raving (which most of us are exceptionaly good at). None of us would be posting here if we didn’t care about quiet recreation. A little cooperation between the motorized and non-motorized camps could go a hell of a long ways. There are self righteous assholes on both sides of the fence, and nothing impedes progress worse than pride. I appreciate your group’s efforts at being responsible public lands users. Let’s all try to consider each other’s needs, and truly compromise.

  10. Sadly, the facts are that dirtbikes & ATVs tear the shit out of everything much faster than bicycles/hikers. Same with horses, plus they shit everywhere & their owners never clean up.

    Speaking as a motocrosser and a cyclist, it would be much better if motorized anything & horses were barred from public land. At most state parks here in PA, motorized vehicle use is forbidden.

    The trails are in good shape, and there’s not a whole lot of stupid going on.

  11. PA is not Arizona. Closing public lands to motorized use would be laughable.

    There is almost nothing but public land out here. But, due to the mismanagement Farce Service, there is almost no “official” riding. Mountain bikes are in much the same situation, but with a much larger group to draw support from, and many fewer people gunning on them.

    Other parts of the west, colorado, and utah, have made proactive efforts to get out in front of this problem. Quads, like all other users, can be managed responsibly. All it takes is providing riding opportunities, as opposed to putting up closed signs everywhere. The Fremont trail system in Southern Utah is a good example. Quad based, and running for something like 200 miles. It connects between a number of small farming towns which are experiencing economic growth for the first time since, say, world war II. Carrots are better than the threat of a stick. (there is almost no law enforcement)

    Motorized users need more trail than mtn bikes, due to the obiviously higher trail pace, but, we can build trail much faster than mtn bikes, if the Land Mismanagers would just allow us to. We have worked in partnership with Flag Biking on most of the new trail on the front side of the mountain, and it works,


    two wheels good.

  12. Ike and other motorheads. Apologies for the last comment. I’ve got a bit of ‘roid rage going. In evey user groupd there are bad and good users. Applause to those who step up and maintain the trails and give back. Out here in North CA we have a problem with Jeepers who rip the F out of the high sierras on the Rubicon trail and refuse to monitor themselves. We’re talking oil changes in the middle of the trail with the old oil dumped straight on the ground. In the middle of otherwise pristine wilderness. What would you do if you came around a corner and found some fat ass redneck doing something like that?

    When the USFS tries to monitor/ limit them the get pissed and refused to comply. Like it is their god given right to fuck over wilderness.

    All respect to the athleticism and skill of the motocross rider. Just like with any groupd it only takes a few knuckelheads to make the whole group look bad.

  13. Well up here in the oh so delightful ASspen land, roaring fork valley in Co, we’re going through the BLM RMP process and the big area of contention is in the middle of the valley in Carbondale, CO. The Motorheads have been up there for ever, motors are also used by the ranchers for maintaining the ranch land up there, as well as horses. Anyway it’s aspen land so there are now a shit ton of homeowners (2nd home at least) who paid a lot of money to live next to these public lands and now they want all the motors to stop . A little pheneomenon called NMBY, not in my back yard, aanyway since the scoping process is in full swing with the BLM the homeowners are devoting all their fucking NMBY energy to ridding the adjacent public land, they feel awful f-ing entitled too, of dirt bikes and anything with a motor as far as they’re concerned…. BUt the Mountain bikers are sitting pretty tucked right in behind like a bunch of roadies, the contentious groups (pretentious, faux environmentally conscious, liberal whiners from somewhere else) trying to influence the outcome, namely by limiting motorized use, don’t even worry about bikes and so while the motorized community is taking a beating, the MTB community is sittin’ pretty, building trails, and chillin’… sooo anyway burnin’ gas is lame but everyones doin’ it, SO WhaT to bad